Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 10:39-11:6
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 10:39
Verse 39: By placing verses 37 and 38 (He 10:37, 38) back into their historical context we discover why the author of Hebrews chose them. He knew his Jewish readers would recognize this familiar passage and remember that Habakkuk had warned them that the kind of people who please God are those who wait patiently for Him to fulfill His promises, no matter how long that might take. He wanted them to see the similarity between the righteous of Habakkuk’s time who had to wait for God to punish the unrighteous, and first-century believers in Jesus who had to wait for the Messiah’s return. In every age it is those who endure in their faith that please God, not those who pull back and hide (Ac 20:20, 27; Ga 2:12).

Monday: Hebrews 10:39
Verse 39 (continued): Then with the hopeful heart that a good pastor must always maintain (1Co 13:7) the author includes his wavering readers among those who have enduring faith when he says, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of (lit: ‘purchasing for oneself’) the soul” (lit: the ‘breath of life,’ in this case meaning eternal life; Mk 8:35-38). Obviously, by saying it this way he wants them to agree with him that they are not the sort of people who pull back and hide, but rather are the kind of people who possess eternal life by faith.

Tuesday: Hebrews 11 (introduction); 11:1
If his quote from Habakkuk is not enough to convince his readers to patiently wait for Jesus to return, then the author reminds them that every notable man or woman in Israel’s history had to wait for God to act. In fact, as he will explain, faith can be considered genuine only when someone continues to trust God in the face of difficult circumstances. If waiting is not involved, it can’t be called “faith.” He will then go on to conclude by listing examples of people who were willing to believe that God would do what He said even if the answer did not arrive in their lifetime. Verse 1: Things which do not yet exist become real to the person who has faith. Without seeing God’s promises actually fulfilled they believe so strongly that they will be fulfilled they order their lives accordingly. The author says faith is the “foundation” (lit: “that which stands underneath…”) upon which our hopes rest. Then he immediately adds that faith also “rebukes” us. Spiritual realities which can’t be seen with our eyes also correct us, bringing us into obedience to God. The words in this verse which are so often translated, “the conviction of things not seen” literally say “the rebuke of things not seen” (Mt 18:15; Lk 3:19; Jn 3:20; 8:46; 1Co 14:24; 1Ti 5:20; 2Ti 4:2; Rev 3:19).

Wednesday: Hebrews 11:2, 3
Verse 2: It was their genuine faith that caused God to bear witness to the spiritual “elders” throughout Israel’s history. The entire Old Testament is filled with example after example of such people, and in each case God, in one way or another, indicated He was pleased with them. Verse 3: The author wants to make his case so strongly that his readers will never again doubt that they must believe in Jesus for the rest of their lives. To do this he begins at Genesis chapter one in which God creates the universe out of nothing. He uses the moment of creation to show that trusting in the reality of the spiritual world is not foolishness. To believe that God can create something where nothing presently exists is a level of faith required of anyone who accepts the Genesis account which states that God spoke the worlds into existence (lit: “ordered the ages”). In effect he asks his readers, “Where do you think the earth you are standing on came from? What greater proof do you need that visible things begin in the invisible spiritual world?” Those who have faith don’t need to look around to see whether or not necessary resources are present before expecting God to fulfill His promise. They don’t have to see anything because they believe He can speak into existence things which do not now exist (Ro 4:17, 21, 22). He is not limited to rearranging existing resources. He can create something from nothing merely by speaking. So when He speaks a promise the person of faith considers it as good as done.

Thursday: Hebrews 11:4
Verse 4: God’s approval of people with faith was first demonstrated toward Adam and Eve’s son, Abel (Ge 4:4, 5). When Abel brought the “firstlings of his flock” and sacrificed them to God it is said, “…the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” In other words, from the first human family onward there have always been those with faith whom God approved and those without faith whom He did not approve. No mention is made in Genesis as to how God showed His approval of Abel, but whatever it was could be observed by both sons. Somehow Abel sacrificed in faith, and somehow Cain did not and somehow God witnessed “over Abel’s gifts” that he was righteous (without any judgment against him). And just as his blood cried out to God from the earth after he was murdered (Ge 4:10; He 12:24), so Abel still speaks to us from the pages of Genesis assuring us that God approves those who have faith.

Friday: Hebrews 11:5
Verse 5: Moving forward to Genesis chapter five, the author notes that six generations later another man pleased God so much he was physically taken up into heaven without dying. The text in the Septuagint states, “And Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God took him up” (Ge 5:24). Again, as with Abel, there are many unanswered questions concerning Enoch, but that God showed His approval of him in a powerful, tangible way is not in question. We are not given enough historical details to know how he expressed his faith, but we can assume based on the fact that God “took him up” that he lived a life of faith and that made him “well-pleasing to God.”

Saturday: Hebrews 11:6
Verse 6: In fact, the author tells us, we can be completely certain that Enoch and Abel were men of faith because it is impossible for anyone who lacks faith to please God. In order to approach Him people must believe that He exists, and diligently seek Him out, confident that He will “pay them their wages,” meaning reward them with the spiritual riches of eternal life. Had Abel lacked faith, his sacrifice would never have been accepted. Had Enoch lacked faith, he would never have escaped death. These men are the kind of people who are well-pleasing to God and the author hopes their example will convince his readers to pursue the promises concerning Jesus Christ with the same tenacity. And in the upcoming verses (vs 7-40) he will reinforce this argument by reminding them of many more of their ancestors who likewise endured in faith waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

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